Pothole Causes Death of a Florence Student

The accident scene in piazza Brunelleschi

An electric wheelchair became stuck in a hole 10 cm (4 inches) deep, causing a disabled 21-year-old Italian student to fall down face down onto the road surface.  Despite being taken by ambulance to Florence’s Santa Maria Nuova hospital, he died later the same day due to injuries.

Niccolò Bizzarri, a classical literature major, had maneuvered his wheelchair out of the Humanities Department Library in piazza Brunelleschi at 1:40 pm on January 13 when the accident occurred.  Although Bizzarri was alone, he did not lose consciousness and called his parents, who were expecting his arrival, on his cell phone.  The student was admitted to the hospital under the “codice verde” protocol (a case of minor urgency), and spent a few hours at Santa Maria Nuova, probably some of that time simply waiting to be examined.  At 9 pm, as he was about to be discharged from the emergency room and sent home, Bizzarri suddenly went into cardiac arrest and died.

A formal investigation into the cause of death and the eventual responsibility of medical staff on duty has been opened. When police arrived to block off the square as a public hazard and crime scene, they found that in the meantime an unidentified person had already filled the pothole with asphalt.

The victim’s friends wrote on Facebook that Bizzarri, although suffering from a degenerative neurological disease from birth which had confined him to a wheelchair for the past 10 years, was nevertheless a dedicated scholar passionate about his studies even with the difficulties of his physical condition.  (rosanna cirigliano)

To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site.